WASHINGTON DC, DC - APRIL 23: Mike Cammalleri #13 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his first period goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on April 23, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Canadiens Upset The Caps 2-1, Series Headed Back To Montreal

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Montreal Reaction: Canadiens Put It All Together In Game 5

The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination on Friday night, squeaking by Washington 2-1 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Robert of SBN's Canadiens blog, Habs Eyes On The Prize, saw his team put everything together to earn the victory and prolong their season.

Nothing Montreal did in this game was new to this playoff round. They took the lead early and added to it. There were moments of domination by both clubs. Halak was again stellar, as in Game One. The Habs at times looked poised to blow the lead, and at other times were especially adept at containing the Capitals thrusts. They played a third period like they had in their only win.

Essentially, the Canadiens took something from each game of the series (wins or losses) and struck it together for sixty minutes of hockey, for once.

So the series pitting the top team in the NHL against the 16th playoff team in terms of points is now headed for a sixth game. Most figured Montreal had about as much chance as a lit match in a pissing contest when the series began, but that assesement sold the Canadiens strengths and the Capitals' weaknesses short by a good length.

Logically, the series should have been over on Wednesday, strictly judging by the 33 point gap of the teams in the standings.

Illogically, could it be that, talent aside, these two teams resemble each other more than Capitals believers would readily admit?

Honestly, logic has left the building, and this is where Dr. Spock's Vulcan ears begin to rub together and start fires.


Washington Reaction: Caps Didn't Match Montreal's Desperation

The Washington Capitals were unable to close out the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night, and now they'll take out their passports and head north to Quebec for a Game 6 on Monday night. At Japers' Rink, SBN's Capitals blog, they've listed the reasons why Washington won't be moving on just yet.

Obviously the Canadiens were going to come out strong, fighting, literally, for their playoff lives, and arguably with an intensity and desperation the Capitals simply wouldn't be able to match.  I can accept that. What I can't accept is that Washington - a team that has battled back from playoff deficits in each of the last two years, a team with a coach who has been in the game for decades and won championships in the minor leagues, a team with a strong veteran presence - looked like they were surprised and, consequently, unprepared for the Canadiens' effort and game plan.

We've said it before, and we'll probably end up saying it again: the Capitals are an incredibly talented hockey team, but if they want to win in the postseason, they're going to need to stop relying solely on their talent, and start using both their brains and their guts.


Montreal Canadiens Survive Game Five With 2-1 Victory Over Capitals

For more information on this game please visit our Capitals site, Japers' Rink, and our Canadiens site, Habs Eyes On The Prize.

Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Montreal went back to Jaroslav Halak and the moved paid off as he came up with 37 saves to help the Canadiens stay alive with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Halak, benched in Game 4 after starting the first three games and being pulled from net halfway through Game 3, allowed just one goal to Alex Ovechkin as the Canadiens kept their playoff hopes alive and now trail the Capitals, 3-2, in the best-of-seven set.

Travis Moen and Michael Cammalleri each had a goal for the Canadiens, who won the first game of this series in overtime, but proceeded to drop the next three.

Semyon Varlamov, starting his third straight game after relieving Jose Theodore in Game 2, stopped 26 shots for top-seeded Washington.

The series heads back to Montreal where Game 6 will be played on Monday.

Montreal struck 90 seconds into the game as Andrei Markov sent a backhand pass from the left boards to the inside left circle where Cammalleri's quick wrister found its way past Varlamov.

At the 7:01 mark of the first, the Habs took a 2-0 lead. Brian Gionta chipped the puck out front from behind the net as he was getting hit and Moen was able to backhand the puck into the left corner of the net.

Washington controlled play for much of the remainder of the opening period, but Halak was able to keep them off the board thanks to his 15 saves.

The Caps continued to apply pressure to start the second period and their worked paid off 3:52 in. A slap shot by John Carlson at the right point found its way through a maze of players, hit off the skate of Mike Knuble in front and Ovechkin was able to jam home the rebound to make it a 2-1 game.

Varlamov kept his team in the game with 10 saves in the middle stanza.

Washington was awarded a power play 5:15 into the third when Benoit Pouliot was called for holding, but Halak came up with several saves during the man advantage, including a stop on a point-blank shot from Tomas Fleischmann.

The Caps had several more opportunities through the third period, but a too many men on the ice call with 1:07 to play effectively killed any chance the team had of tying the game.

Halak finished the final period with 12 saves for the win.


7:00 P.M.: Capitals Can Eliminate Habs, Set Up Semifinal Meeting With Flyers, By Winning Game 5

Read more on the game at our Caps blog, Japers' Rink or our Habs blog, Habs Eyes On the Prize.

(Sports Network) - The top-seeded Washington Capitals will try to close out their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series tonight, when they host the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 at Verizon Center.

Since losing the opener of this best-of-seven series in overtime, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals have rattled off three straight wins, including a 6-3 victory over the Habs in Montreal on Wednesday. Washington has exploded for 17 goals over the last three games to grab the 3-1 series lead.

Washington is holding a 3-1 series lead for the first time since it ousted Buffalo in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals for the franchise's only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Capitals are 2-6 all-time in Game 5s when leading three games to one in a series.

The Capitals have to like their chances in tonight's game after posting the NHL's best record at home during the regular season, going 30-6-5 in D.C.. The Canadiens were 19-17-5 on the road this year.

Montreal, meanwhile, needs to make a monumental comeback to win this series. The Canadiens have come back from a 3-1 series deficit in recent memory, winning the final three games against Boston in the 2004 conference quarterfinals. That was the only time the club was able to win a series after trailing 3-1.

The Canadiens, who were swept by Boston in last year's playoffs, have lost 10 of their last 11 postseason games, including six straight on home ice.

Habs head coach Jacques Martin is expected to make the switch back to goaltender Jaroslav Halak tonight after giving Carey Price the start in Game 4. Halak started the first three games before being replaced with Price midway through Game 3. However, Price did not fare much better than Halak in Game 4, allowing four goals on 36 shots.

Price also logged four penalty minutes late in Game 4, as the netminder was twice whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct in the third period. Both penalties came directly after Washington goals. Price shot the puck into a crowd of Capitals after Jason Chimera's goal made it 4-2 with 7:59 left and then hit Nicklas Backstrom while the Washington forward skated past the Montreal bench following his empty-net goal in the closing seconds.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added an assist in Wednesday's victory to help the Capitals move within a victory of the conference semifinals. Ovechkin has four goals and four assists in the series after going without a point or a shot in Game 1. Washington's captain has 15 goals and 25 points in his last 15 playoff games.

Backstrom had a goal and two assists and Mike Knuble scored twice. Semyon Varlamov, making his second straight start in place of Jose Theodore, stopped 36 shots. Varlamov will get the call again tonight for the Caps.

"I thought we had a lot of good shots and good looks," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau. "That was the start of our game coming back. They played real good in the second and the crowd was really into it. They blitzed us but we were able to weather the storm."

Dominic Moore, Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta each notched a goal for the Canadiens

"The game plan we had from the start has worked, but we've fallen asleep at times and that hurts us," said Gionta. "In every game we've played real strong, but at a certain point there is a breakdown and they score. So we have to regroup cause one more loss and it's over."

The Canadiens are expected to play tonight without defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, who is suffering from an unspecified illness.

The Habs and Caps have never faced each other in the postseason before this spring, but played a very tight season series this year. Each team won two games and only one of the four tilts was decided by more than one goal -- a 4-2 win by Washington on Jan. 5.

If necessary, Game 6 of this series will be played Monday in Montreal.

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